WWF In Your House
In Your House was developed by Sculptured Software and released by Acclaim, which are both now defunct companies (for better or worse). As far as Acclaim goes, a lot of people would say "for the better," but when they had the WWF license back in the day, they had a pretty good track record for making decent wrestling games.
Also, for a little background on the In Your House "brand", it was a series of pay-per-views held between May of 1995 and April of 1999. The concept at the time was that the WWF held 5 big PPV's a year and during the "off months" when one of the big three hour PPV's wasn't running, they would run a shorter, two hour PPV called In Your House, for a discounted price. I remember seeing the first In Your House event as a teenager when the WWF literally gave away a house to a random fan as a gimmick to draw people in and Diesel defended his WWF Championship against Sid Vicious in the main event.... but enough of all that. Let's get into the actual game a little.
My personal experience with In Your House is that my uncle bought it when it came out, mostly because he had a Playstation and that it happened to be the newest wrestling game available at the time. My uncle thought the game was "weird" and only played it once or twice, but I ended up playing it a lot because back then, when you bought a game, there was no "trading it in for store credit". He was stuck with it; I happened to enjoy it, so I played it every chance I got. Well, until the next "newest" wrestling game came out anyway.
In Your House is sort of polarizing to most wrestling game aficionados. If you're looking for a straightforward wrestling game then this one might disappoint you; it's sort of a hybrid. To put it simply, it's basically WWF's top roster of superstars from 1996 mixed with Mortal Kombat. There are a lot of similarities between the two that we'll get to but just to start off, In Your House has a nice, live action intro to the game. Sort of in the style of the old Raw Is War show opener.
Afterwards, we cut to the wrestler select screen and Vince McMahon informs us that it's "the ten biggest superstars of the WWF's "New Generation". It does happen to be a good roster filled with choices like Vader, Undertaker, Bret and Owen Hart and pre-DX Triple H and Shawn Michaels. Ten wrestlers would seem like a pitifully small roster nowadays, but back when this game was released, it wasn't bad. Vince McMahon and "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig do the somewhat limited commentary for the game. I'm sure it was technological restraints of the time but their commentary just consists of a handful of "one liners" that are played when appropriate.
Once the matches begin, all of the superstars take the "New Jack approach" to wrestling as in they play their respective theme songs through the entirety of their match. Pre-internet, playing this game was a decent way to listen to full superstar theme songs, if you wanted to do so. Now, we move on to the similarites with Mortal Kombat. In fact, there are quite a few....
To start with, the matches are a little faster paced than a normal wrestling game and there's more of a focus on striking both conventional and over-the-top. For example, Owen Hart can utilize some sort of "gun" and shoot playing cards at his opponents (because he was the "King Of H(e)arts") or The British Bulldog can literally turn his head into the head of a bulldog and bite people. There are still some standard wrestling moves available like slams and suplexes, though. You're even able to throw your opponent over the top rope but not much action seems to actually take place outside of the ring; they seem to get back in fairly quickly.
Again, like Mortal Kombat, you have to beat your opponent in a "best two rounds out of three" format and at the end of each match, instead of "Finish Him!", you're invited to "Pin Him!". Each wrestler has their own "super pin" finisher that they can utilize at this point. Some of these "super pins" are very similar to each other. A lot of them have to do with dropping an oversized, superstar specific "gimmick" on your opponent thus crushing them. There are a couple of unique ones, though, and they're all worth trying to figure out.
As far as graphics go, the superstars in the game are digitized versions of their real life counterparts just like Mortal Kombat used digitized versions of actors for the original series of games. The superstars also get their own personal "stages". Each stage features a standard wrestling ring but the location changes for each. Owen Hart's stage features giant playing cards and a king and queen in the background. (Stu and Helen, perhaps?) Bret Hart's stage is the infamous "Hart dungeon". Undertaker's is a dungeon of a different kind or maybe more accurately, a crypt complete with a "slime monster" thing and skulls for the turnbuckles and ring posts! You can't really interact much with the backgrounds but they add a little "character" to the game and also makes In Your House even more of an homage to Mortal Kombat.
All in all, this is a pretty fun game to replay after all these years. I hadn't really played it since about 1996 or so, when it came out. One reason I always enjoy writing these reviews and playing through these games from the past is, I think sometimes we, as wrestling game fans, tend to have the "Madden syndrome" when it comes to the games these days. For example, every year when a new WWE game (or Madden NFL game) comes out, we put last years game away or trade it in to purchase the new version and rarely bother to remember it or play it again.
I'm not saying these games are bad; quite good actually. It's just the way the system is set up now, it's an era of disposable games with a one year life span. Anyway, I guess that was my tangent for this time. I tend to usually have one or two... My point was, this is a fun game with a good roster. Even aside from who I mentioned there's Goldust, Ahmed Johnson and a couple of others. It plays great and works as a very well-done "homage" (which is much nicer than saying "rip off") of Mortal Kombat. I would suggest to anyone who's able to get your hands on a copy and check it out.
Until next time, keep mashing those buttons!